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Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a key component of website marketing, and your SEO keyword reports are a crucial element of success.
Getting organic traffic from the major search engines can be the difference between your content marketing being successful and your marketing efforts not achieving a return on investment.
With all that pressure on your SEO strategy, it means your SEO efforts need to be accountable with metrics and KPIs. Keeping track of your SEO metrics will help you be more successful because as the saying goes “what you measure you can manage”. You will be made constantly aware of your progress and the steps you need to take to get closer to your goals.
SEO Performance Key Metrics
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about your SEO performance.
Target Keywords – Your keyword research will show which keywords you need to go after if you want to attract the people you can best serve (your prospects, potential partners, etc.).
Search Engine Rankings – Next you will need ranking data to track the effect of your SEO efforts on your keyword performance. Optionally, you could use a platform, like Moz or SEMrush, to set up keyword tracking with monthly reports.
Search Traffic – Your Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other website monitoring tools will inform you the number of page views and click-through rate (CTR) you are acquiring from search engine referrals. There is no point in ranking highly for search engine keywords that do not send you visitors, plus you will want to double down on keywords and topics that you do well with. Many advanced tools exist beyond Google Analytics, also. For example, Mai Analytics allows you to view post categories, age of posts, and content length of posts to compare what makes a difference in your own specific situation.
Technical SEO – As your website grows you will inevitably find there are things that need to be fixed, redirected, moved around, or otherwise tweaked. Technically (sorry) this falls under “Technical SEO”, but don’t let the name intimidate you, for most cases, it simply means ensuring the site is crawl-able without sending the bots into redirect loops or black holes.
Keyword Research Reports
One of the first things you need to do when planning out your SEO is to perform keyword research, that is to gather your most sought-after keyword data and in-depth.
Tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush will help you with this. SEMRush has a free trial (You can sign up for free and analyze 10 keywords per day) and Ahrefs has a free webmaster tools plan and limited free use of their keyword tool.
Personally, I developed my own tools because I am a nerd and have a very specific workflow. We use these tools, along with others I mentioned earlier, to provide content management services to our publisher and creator network.
In your SEO Keyword Research Report, you will be looking for some key information:
- Search Volume – This is the tool’s estimate for the number of search queries performed per month for the specific keyword. Don’t be dismayed if the phrase you are looking for has low volume, the tools can only estimate, plus a single article can potentially rank for several related keywords that combined amount to a good volume.
- Difficulty or Competition – What are the chances you will actually rank for the phrase?
- Google Ads or PPC value – The ad price is how much people are bidding to be found on Google Adwords and other PPC ad networks. If people are paying to rank for a keyword that can be useful to know.
- Search Intent – Are people looking for information or products and services? It can be the difference between someone wanting “how to” and DIY articles or tutorials rather than “I want to buy” and product pages.
The number of keywords you eventually need to target is up to you and your workload, but I would aim to gather more keyword phrases than you think you need initially and then prioritize and whittle them down based on potential and relevance than start with too few and be left having to scratch around for ideas.
SEO Ranking Reports
SEO is not a fast process so you won’t see results overnight. At some point, you need to return to your SEO efforts and see how well you are performing in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
SEO dashboards do not always provide a rank tracker by default and instead will defer to Google Search Console’s keyword ranking report instead. Regardless, the GSC tool is very useful as it will show you the keywords for which you are already showing on results pages.
Even more interesting, as well as the keywords you intentionally targeted with content written for keyword rankings, it will tell you the search phrases that you appear for accidentally. These phrases are excellent ideas for future content or optimizations.
For each search phrase that is very important to you, it is useful to track your current ranking position and historical keyword position. You will ideally have a commercial or home-grown SEO reporting tool that provides a graph of your progress for each keyword.
Again, Ahrefs and SEMRush can offer reports that track your SEO keyword ranking, with the option to automate alerts to your inbox if you prefer.
While monitoring your SERP results, you need to balance writing new content, updating old content, and performing further SEO research.
Google Analytics for SEO
Dashboards and seo keyword reports are all very interesting but you really need to know if your SEO efforts are paying off for your business. Google Analytics, combined with Google Search Console mentioned above, are a powerful combination of tools (even if GA4 is a bit of a mess right now).
(Side note: everyone we talk to thinks GA4 is a mess. Even our friends at Matomo – whose analytics engine we use for our Mai Analytics tool we developed for our publisher network. If you need help with GA4, let us know and we can show you alternatives.
When analyzing your SEO keywords you will want to know:
- Bounce Rate – Remember we talked about search intent above? If you do not match what the searcher is looking for then the majority of your clicks will turn right back around and bounce.
- Organic search referrals versus social media – You can be successful WITHOUT SEO, but it is far better to be successful WITH SEO in addition to other traffic sources. So take a keen interest in where your traffic comes from and which are growing.
- First visit and landing page – Your SEO efforts are going to hopefully achieve an increase in first-time visitors. Your loyal, repeat visitors are more likely to come via email, remembering your website address, or from social media. Where your first visit readers arrive is their landing page, even if you never intended it to be. Chances are that the landing page is NOT your homepage!
- Goal conversion rate – In your analytics, you need to set up your goals. That is, what commercial outcome do you regard as a success? Usually, there will be a product purchase, a freebie download, a form-fill, or an email opt-in at the very least. Now you need to match the routes people take from the landing page to goal success and optimize that path.
Technical SEO Audit Reports
Technical SEO focuses on the website’s architecture and infrastructure to make it more accessible and understandable to search engines, while other SEO practices target the content and direct user experience.
That said, there is a large overlap with things like “404 page not found” having a bad impact on both user experience and SEO, so fixing the errors found in a Technical SEO audit are worth fixing outside of SEO concerns.
What we are looking for in a technical SEO report are:
- Website infrastructure optimization – load speed, mobile responsiveness, indexing.
- Crawling issues – Improve crawling, sitemaps, indexing issues, and search engine rendering.
- Website content architecture – Categories, tags, index/no-index, robots.txt, content silos.
Fixing the issues found involves altering the actual HTML of pages, plus tweaking server settings, plus things like compressing images, offloading to CDNs, and caching for performance.
In addition to fixes, there are also technical SEO ways to improve your keywords rankings, such as targeting SERP features such as getting quoted in snippets or having your review conclusions shown along with star ratings in search engine results pages.
SEO Linking Reports
As mentioned, Google’s search algorithm rewards backlinks, so we need to know if our backlink profile is growing, how many unique domains we are getting links from, and if those links are considered quality link referrals or are toxic/spammy.
Link building is hard, takes time, and requires effort. It’s a lot like networking with your peers. You need to make connections with other publishers in your market or niche. It’s also helpful to link out, to trusted sources and topical authorities.
A good SEO linking report will inform you both of your backlink profile and if you are in danger of having too many toxic links pointing at your domain. You should also get a guide on the anchor text being used so you can compare the coverage to your SEO keywords reporting.
Over to You
Is there anything I have missed or not made clear? Let us know, we want our guides to be as helpful to all publishers as possible because helping website marketers and publishers is what we do!
Of course, while you can do all of this SEO stuff yourself, including generating reports, you don’t have to. Get in touch with David if you are interested in how we can help you with your traffic or monetization.